Reflections from a Morning Run

Testimony // August 18, 2020 //

This blog was written in early May.

This morning was a major milestone for me. It was the first time I’d run through Powell in
nearly 10-months after suffering injury. As I ran again outside for the first time, I reflected on
what it meant to me, and thought I might share it with you. Hopefully, you’ll find some
encouragement in it.

Prior to 10-months ago, I normally ran 3.2-miles, beginning at First Baptist Powell (where I’m a
pastor) out to Powell Middle School and back, 2-3x’s per week, sometimes extending the route
to 4.0-miles. However, on July 8, 2019, I blew up my left foot with an Achilles tendon strain,
plantar fasciitis, and a large cyst extending from under my ankle to the bottom of my foot. All of
this resulted in corrective surgery in December, followed by 3-months of healing/physical
rehab. In March, I started the slow process of training and rebuilding my endurance. All through
the process, my goal was return to my Powell run.

So, there I was running on the roadway and sidewalks along Emory Road, passing businesses, schools, and neighborhoods. It surely wasn’t a perfect run. I had to pause occasionally waiting for traffic where the road had no shoulder. Three or four times. I slowed to walk for 15-secs along the way to catch my breath. My pace was a little slower than it was before. And then finally, I climbed that steep hill to end of the run at First Baptist Powell, and that’s always a killer. Yet, as I ran, the Lord gave me some reflections about our Christian walk to share with you.

Our walk with Christ is not always an easy one. Sometimes, after the Good Physician performs corrective surgery in our hearts, it takes a while to get back to “running again”. We need time to heal, build up strength, and restore endurance. If we jump in too quickly, we run the risk of re-injury. However, our goal should always be to return to walking (and then running!). But the return is not always easy. As I mentioned, some things happened along the way that I needed to heed, and I will apply them spiritually.

1). There were parts of the route where the road had no shoulder. I’m not one of those runners
who, in every instance, forces traffic out of their lane to pass by me. Sometimes, it’s better for
me to step off the roadway and let traffic pass.

Very often, the world system is rushing toward us at a very fast and powerful pace. Sometimes
we need to “respect the traffic” and step out of the way. Our mission is to be “salt” and “light”
in the world, not try to overtake it. Jesus will do that in a resounding way when he returns. Our
job is to love others and tell those who are willing to listen, how Jesus died for their sins. Let
God deal with the traffic.

2). There were a few moments when I needed to walk a little to catch my breath. Before my
surgery, I could run 3.5-miles without slowing. But now as I work my way back, I need to rebuild
my strength and endurance.

Jesus called himself “the bread of life” who offered “fountains of living water”. These are
illustrations of one who has great need that only he can satisfy. As I ran, my great physical need
was to pause for a moment, to breath in more air, and allow oxygen to refresh my muscles.
However, my spiritual need (the greater) is to carve out time in my everyday schedule to read
my Bible and then pause throughout the day to meditate on it. Those “pauses” are what keeps
me running spiritually all day long.

3). The final 0.4-mile is a running climb from the Powell Community Chest to FBP Family Life
Center. It’s a steep climb, and a killer.

They say once you get “over the hill” it’s all downhill from there. At 56-years old, I’m officially
well over the hill, but I’m not finding life to be a coast to the finish line. It’s more like a climb to
the top of the mountain that gets steeper as I get higher!

I remember two years ago, after completing a Spartan race, I commented to my teammates
“That’s it! I’m done! Now I can retire from pushing myself to these extremes.” The next day,
one of my teammates texted me the following verse.

10  And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the
time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now,
behold, I am this day eighty-five years old.  11  I am still as strong today as I was in the day that
Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and
coming.  12  So now give me this hill… – Joshua 14:10-12a

It’s noteworthy that my teammate was only 35-years old (with the strength of a freight train)
when he texted me that verse, but his message was clear. “You’ve got a lot left in you, brother.
You’re not that old. No excuses.” Same goes for our spiritual run. There is no “retirement” from
the Great Commission or the Great Commandment, no matter how steep that final hill is. WE
keep running. We keep seeking the Kingdom of God and working to fill it with penitent sinners.

So, as I labored through my daily run this morning, using knees that are older, and feet that
have been surgically repaired, I was thankful. I am thankful for the opportunity to run this
spiritual race and for my God who encourages and empowers me to go farther every day. I will
“step aside” when I need to. I will stop to rest and catch my breath when necessary. But I will
always press on to climb that mountain, for as long as he puts breath in my lungs and powers
my muscles. He is worthy!

mm

About Rick Bertou

Rick moved from Pennsylvania to Tennessee in 2008. After 34-years in business, Rick became part of our full-time pastoral staff, responsible for pastoring our Adult Education/Ministries and leading our Financial Management Team. Rick and his wife Cindy have been married for over 30-years. They have 5-adult children.